Swansea University's Oriel Science has welcomed the first school to visit its new city centre exhibition venue.
The pupils of St Joseph's Cathedral Primary School created Oriel Science’s first exhibit, Journey, thanks to funding from the Arts Council of Wales and with support from the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University.
St Joseph's inclusion in the exhibition made it only fitting that they should be the first school to explore the new location on Monday 7th June.
While researching the heritage of their school, local community and cathedral, St Joseph's found all three originated in the 1850s after Irish immigrants settled in Wales.
The school's history and its status as a School of Sanctuary, the only one of its kind in Swansea, is why St Joseph's is committed to supporting young people seeking refuge in the UK.
Its pupils come from a wide range of ethical and cultural backgrounds, which presented a fantastic opportunity to work with migration scholars, including Professor Sergei Shubin and artists Bill Taylor-Beales, Rachel Taylor-Beales and Mandy Lane. Excitedly, this collaboration resulted in two pieces of art – Cast Hands and Living Bricks.
During their visit, the pupils saw a display of plaster cast hands holding one another on a bed of sand, an exhibit formerly showcased in London's Tate Modern Gallery that symbolises togetherness and unity.
The second artwork features words and quotes etched into bricks, reflecting what St Joseph's pupils and their families feel are the most important things about "Sanctuary".
These etchings have also inspired a song, co-written by St Joseph’s pupils and Bill Taylor-Beales, which was recorded in Swansea Cathedral, a church built by some of the first Irish immigrants in Swansea.
The children’s visit to Oriel Science was rounded off by creating landforms in the Augmented Reality Sandbox, cycling a customised bike to create hydrogen, and taking turns driving the Swansea University Race Car Simulator.
Tanya Foxall, Deputy Director of Operations at Oriel Science, said: "It was absolutely delightful to welcome such a well-behaved Year 5 group from St Joseph's to Oriel Science for our first school visit, and to thank them for their contribution to our Movement and Motion exhibition."
Sergei Shubin, Professor of Human Geography and CMPR Director at Swansea University, said: "We are delighted to develop a collaboration with St. Joseph's school as a part of our bid to become the University of Sanctuary."
"Creative engagement with local communities supports our broader commitment to fostering a culture of welcome at Swansea, which links to our ongoing EU-funded Horizon2020 project PERCEPTIONS, examining how Europe and the EU are seen by people migrated to Wales."
Cerian Appleby, Expressive Arts Lead and Year 5 teacher at St Joseph's Cathedral Primary School, commented: "It was so lovely to see our children having the chance to interact with the exhibits at Oriel Science.
"The children excitedly looked at the hydrogen-powered car, learnt how to test a crab's memory, as well as how big a Condor's wingspan is. They loved the hands-on experience and can't wait to go back!
"They were also very proud to see their work exhibited and enjoyed the chance to explore perceptions of migration and journey and the changing images of Europe, with Professor Sergei Shubin from the Centre for Migration Policy Research. It was a fabulous experience for our pupils, especially after the recent restrictions.
"As the first School of Sanctuary in Swansea, it is important for us to work with others to build a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for individuals seeking sanctuary from war and persecution."
Oriel Science is open to the public on weekends, Bank Holidays, and during school holidays from 10 am to 4 pm at 21-22 Castle Street (a minute's walk from Castle Square) and is free to enter. Tickets can be booked here.